Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fibula – What Are They? Where Do They Come From? How Do I Wear This Thing?

Moroccan Fibula in the Kabylie Style

If you have seen North African folkloric dancers, you may have seen them wearing a curious looking pin with a ring or “C” shape around it on their costuming. Or maybe you have seen renaissance faire characters with these items on their cloaks. If you aren't familiar with authentic period costuming, you may never have seen one of these pieces up close. The have a long history, can be quite beautiful and lend an artistic touch to dance costuming or even everyday wear. 

There are several different designs that are called 'fibula' but basically consist of a long pin with an attached piece of heavy wire or decorated metal in a “C” shape. Fibula can be single pieces or pairs. Fibulae is the plural form of the word. They can be plain or quite ornate and often have chains or pendants attached. Gems, enamel work, and designs of any and all kinds can be found on these lovely pieces. They can be made from almost any metal, and sometimes other materials, including  bronze, iron, ivory, silver, gold, and even bone. Usually worn at the shoulder or shoulders, they are often thought of as the original safety pin!

Catch style fibula from Asia Minor

Fibula have been found that date to as early as the bronze age. Quite popular with the ancient Romans who borrowed design from the Greeks and Etruscans, their use was spread throughout the world as Rome extended it's rule. The use of fibulae was supplanted by the invention of the button in the middle ages, but there are some cultures that continued its use still use fibula today as part of their culture.  As a form of art there is nowhere in the world that boasts such ornate fibula as North Africa.

The North African style of fibula are worn by pushing the pin through two or more layers of fabric, then turning the ring to hold the fabric and pin in place.  Many dancers continue to use these beautiful items to adorn forlkloric and tribal costuming.

Anthropology Blog with info on fibula:

Roman and Greek Jewelry:

The Red Camel generally has a selection of several North African
pieces available for purchase:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Look Mankind In The Eye...

I found a beautiful web site dedicated to the work of Jimmy Nelson called Before They Pass Away.  Lovely photos and information about the photographer.  Wonderful to explore, this site contains a great deal of information on the photos, the people and the culture they come from.  These are the last tribes on Earth in their native clothing and adornment.  Nelson does an unbelievable job of documenting these people in their own environments.  There is an art book available in a couple of different formats.  It is somewhat pricey, but I have no doubt that it would be worth it.  Please check it out, it really is breathtaking.

Dancers may specifically be interested in seeing the photos and information on the tribes of India and Nepal in relation to the jewelry they wear, but every one of the journeys and tribes portrayed on this site is a trip into another world.

"Look mankind in the eye, before he disappears forever."